We’ve not played the game of restructuring the right way – Agbakoba
Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)
Nigeria has played the game of restructuring wrongly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, has said.
Agbakoba made the assertion at the 16th Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture/Symposium in Lagos.
The event organised by the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association was themed: “Federalism: Whether Our Judiciary is under Threat”.
“Why I said it is that we need to first decide what the political evolution of Nigeria is. Nigeria is not a liberal democracy, it might be difficult for those political elite to agree to restructuring unless we find a diplomatic way to intervene,” Agbakoba said.
According to him, under the constitution of the country, a lot more can be done by the state governments.
He urged the state governments to exercise their powers in developing resources.
“Why has no governor been able to establish a power plant except Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos. Write letters to the 36 states governors and ask them why are they not using the powers given to them by the constitution to develop their states,” the SAN told lawyers.
For a Judge of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu, the continued clamour for Nigeria’s restructuring showed absence of ideal model of federal system of government.
The judge said: “Federalism as practiced in Nigeria has been argued to be an aberration, as power and resources are concentrated at the centre.”
He noted the 1999 Constitution provided for a federal system which was based on separation of powers among the three arms of government.
“It is our collective responsibility to see that the true tenets of federalism are attained and practised”.
“I must hasten to say that I disagree with the theme of the discuss. The judiciary may be facing challenges arising from the system we operate”.
“The challenges, however, are not restricted to judiciary but equally apply to sectors such as health, security, education and the area of provision of infrastructure. The challenges are mere hurdles which the judiciary will surmount like it did during the military era.”
Mr Tayo Oyetibo, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said that disobedience of court orders by the executive arm constituted an attack on the judiciary.
Oyetibo spoke on: “Is the Judiciary under Siege by the Executive?”
The senior advocate said that the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers were critical to the success of any democracy.
He said that alleged subversion of the constitution by the executive arm through disobedience of court orders constituted an attack on the judiciary.
“Judges who exercise judicial powers to determine disputes between government and individuals, ought not to be subjected to reprisals for handing down decisions unfavourable to the executive”.
In his goodwill message, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, prayed God to comfort the family of the late Gani Fawehinmi.
The chief judge was represented by Justice Adedayo Odebanjo.
He said that the late legal icon was acknowledged as a foremost human rights activist who dedicated his life to the fight against human rights abuses and condemnation of bad government.
He urged the Nigeria Bar Association not to be silent on important national issues.
He advised lawyers not file frivolous cases in court thereby adding to the already congested dockets of the courts.
He also urged judges to uphold the rule of law at all times.
Mr Femi Falana (SAN), who was the master of the ceremony, urged lawyers to go to court to challenge human rights abuses as the late Gani Fawehinmi did. (NAN)